tv Democracy Now LINKTV January 21, 2015 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
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01/21/15 01/21/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> we are 15 years into this new century. 15 years with
terror touching our shores and with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. it has been and still is a hard
time for many. but tonight,
we turn the page. >> in his state of the union address, president obama declares the shadow of crisis has passed while calling on republican lawmakers to raise taxes on the rich while helping to boost middle-class americans. >> loopholes lead to inequality by allowing the top 1% to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. we can use that money doubt more families pay for childcare and send her kids to college. >> joining us to discuss the speech, congressman keith ellison of the house progressive caucus, longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate ralph nader, phylllis bennis of the institute for policy studies, pulitzer prize winnng tax analyst david cay johnston, and lisa graves of the center for media & democracy. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman.
president obama has delivered his sixth state of the union address, outlining his domestic and foreign policy agenda for his final two years in office. on the foreign policy front, obama defended his decision to begin normalizing relations with cuba, called for congress to pass a new authorization of military force against the islamic state, and vowed again to close guantánamo. he also urged congress to give him trade promotion authority, the power to negotiate free trade deals like the trans pacific partnership. but much of his speech focused on the u.s. economy and efforts to bolster the middle class with a push for education, child care, and tax breaks. >> it is
now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years and for decades to come. will we accept an economy were only a few of us do spectacularly well? or commit ourselves to an
economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the
effort? >> for the first time since 2001, the state of the union address included no mention of the worlds "al qaeda." but obama did say three other words that made history -- lesbian, bisexual and transgender, marking the first time those words have appeared in a state of the union. >> that is why we defend free speech and advocate for political prisoners and condemn the persecution of women or religious minorities or people who are lesbian, gay bisexual, or transgender. we do these things and only because they're the right things to do, but because ultimately, it will make as safer. >> in yemen, shiite houthi rebels have overtaken the presidential palace and taken over guard outside the residence of president abd-rabbu mansour hadi in what top officials are calling a coup. but the rebels appear to have stopped short of forcing hadi's resignation, instead demanding
he comply with the terms of a power-sharing deal reached when the houthis seized the capital sanaa last year. in the democratic republic of congo, at least 15 people have been killed as police cracked down on protesters demanding the resignation next year of president joseph kabila. the protests have continued for a third day over government plan's to hold a census which would delay elections and keep kabila in power. the united states and cuba begin historic talks today aimed at restoring full diplomatic ties for the first time in more than half a century. the head of the u.s. delegeation, assistant secretary of state roberta jacobson, is the highest-ranking u.s. diplomat to enter cuba in 35 years. mexican authorities say an austrian forensic team has been unable to recover enough dna to determine whether charred human remains found in the state of guerrero belong to 42 students missing since september.
federal authorities have claimed local police turned the students over to a local drug gang, which killed them and burned their bodies, but so far only one student's remains have been identified. responding to the latest news, emiliano navarrete, father of one of the missing students, said he still doubts the government's account. >> since the beginning i have not believed with the government has put forward. i think the kids are still alive. and if this is so come at those remains found in the dump along to some of the youngsters, there's someone who wanted to get rid of them. someone got in their way. >> in bahrain, human rights activist nabeel rajab has been sentenced to six months in prison for insulting the government on twitter. rajab remains free on bail as he appeals. last may, rajab was released from prison after two years for charges including taking part in illegal protests. to see our interview with him after his release you can go to democracynow.org.
in the united states, residence of glenville, montana and surrounding towns are being told not to drink their tap water after the cancer-causing chemical benzene was found at a water treatment plant following an oil spill. the warning comes days after up to 50,000 gallons of water spilled into the yellowstone river, and follows earlier assurances by state officials the spill posed no threat to public safety. glenville sits on the edge of the bakken shale, a top oil production site, and near the route of the proposed keystone xl pipeline. president obama has vowed to veto a republican-backed measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, calling it a direct challenge to rulings by the supreme court. the house plans to vote on the ban thursday, on the 42nd anniversary of roe v. wade, the supreme court's decision establishing the legal right to abortion. a new report finds at least 50 u.s. law enforcement agencies
have quietly obtained radar devices which effectively allow them to see inside homes. according to usa today, the radars can detect human breathing at a distance of over 50 feet, and penetrate walls to locate someone inside a home and determine if they are moving. dozens of agencies including the fbi and u.s. marshals have been deploying the radars with little scrutiny by courts or the public. france has announced a wave of "exceptional measures" to combat terrorism in the wake of the attacks earlier this month on charlie hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket. prime minister manuel valls said the government will spend the equivalent of $490 million over three years, sharply increase funding for intelligence, and hire over 2,600 new staff. the plan includes the major increase in surveillance including a measure using the use of phone taps. the news comes as france has detained four people charged with aiding supermarket shooter amedy coulibaly.
a french comedian, meanwhile, is facing up to seven years in prison for a facebook post in the wake of the attacks. the comedian, dieudonné m'bala m'bala, was arrestd and charged with inciting terrorism after posting that he felt like "charlie coulibaly," a term which combined the name of targeted magazine charlie hebdo and the name of kosher supermarket shooter, amedy coulibaly. and the mayor of a paris suburb appears to have backed down on his bid to ban screenings of an oscar-nominated film over concerns about terrorism. the film "timbuktu," just nominated for best foreign language film, is viewed as an unequivocally anti-jihadist film, which depicts the horrors of jihadist occupation in mali. but jacques-alain bénisti, mayor of villers-sur-marne, who had not seen the film, said he feared it made a "apology for terrorism." following a wave of criticism,
he has vowed to reschedule the film and host a debate with religious leaders. and those are some of the headlines, this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i am amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around
the world. we turn now to look at president obama's state of the union. >> mr. vice president, members of congress, my fellow americans . we are 15 years into this new century. 15 years with terror touching our shores that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars, that saw vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. it has been and still is a hard time for many.
but tonight, we turn the page. america, for all that we have endured, for all the grit and hard work required to come back, for all the tasks that lie ahead , know this. the shadow of crisis has passed. in
the state of the union is strong. >> president obama speaking at last night's state of the union. today we spend the rest of the hour analyzing obama's speech. we begin on the foreign policy front. on tuesday night, obama defended his decision to begin normalizing relations with cuba. he vowed again to close guantánamo. for the first time since 2001, there was mention of al qaeda in -- there was no mention of al qaeda in the state of the union address. he called for lawmakers to pass a new authorization of military force against islamic state militants. >> in iraq, and syria, american
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leadership, including our military power, is stopping isil's advance. instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the
middle east we leading a broad coalition, including arab nations, to the great -- to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group. [applause] we're also supporting a moderate opposition in syria that can help us in this effort and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremists. now this effort will take time. it will require focus. but we will succeed. and tonight, i call on this congress to show the world we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against isil. >> authorizing the use of force against i sold -- isil.
phyllis bennis is a fellow at the institute for policy studies. she's written several books, including, "understanding the palestinian-israeli conflict: a primer" and "calling the shots: how washington dominates today's united nations." what about this authorization? >> for the last several years, president obama has been relying on earlier authorizations. authorization for the war in iraq in 2002. he is been relying on this decades old authorizations to say, i can go to war without anything else. but i would like it if congress would pass a new authorization. congress seems eager to pass it. the issue being debated is will there be any restrictions? will there be a sunset clause or will these be the kind we saw her we had everyone in congress, except for the perot at barbara lee, stood up and voted for an authorization that had no restrictions against who we were going to war, no restrictions on geography, no restrictions on
time am a no restrictions on weapons, no restrictions on anything. it was a rather shocking level of authorization to go to war anywhere in the world for as long as you want against whoever you say without any checks and balances. and what president obama is saying now, i'm waiting for congress to bring me the language. congress, and some members of congress are saying, we want you to drop the language and we will approve it. there's a little bit of back-and-forth. what makes clear is despite this language we just heard them president obama's speech, that we are not at ground war in the middle east, instead of that -- instead of that, we are in at least five or six separate wars the may not involve large number's of ground troops. there are troops on the ground and boots on the ground and more going, not fewer, but there primarily air wars. closing guantánamo is easier if you just kill all the people that your predecessor arrested. so there's something very disturbing about this framework in his speech or he spoke so
much of values. this is about the values of our country. well, what values are we talking about? what does the rest of the world -- what do people in iraq, people in syria, people in gaza what are they seeing of our values as they watch this speech last night? >> he barely mentioned two issues which have raised much to national uproar when he said, as americans, we respect human dignity even when we're threatened, which is why i've prohibited torture and worked to make sure our use of new technology i drones is properly constrained. that is not the only mention he made of all of these drone strikes. >> and this notion of can training -- constraining drone strikes which means we'll have a kill meeting at the white house once a week, not every day. only on tuesdays does the white house staff meet, literally, to decide who should be on the so-called to list. when i said earlier that this is a scenario were closing
guantánamo becomes easier if you have fewer people, it is not because they're not going after people. there simply assassinating people with far higher numbers. there has been a serious escalation in the drone war. and to say instead of going to war, we are full in back, we're doing something now's come a really belies the reality of what the drone war looks like on the ground. >> we're going to turn to congress member keith ellison speaking to us from the russell rotunda. he is cochair of the house progressive caucus. first muslim member of congress. on this issue of calling for authorization to attack the islamic state, your response to
that as well as this comment -- we want to play what juan was quoting, this, to president obama. >> as americans, we respect human dignity even when we are threatened, which is why i have prohibited torture and worked to
make sure our use of new technology i drones is properly
constrained. >> congress member keith ellison, welcome to democracy now! your response? >> let me say when the president pull kinds -- proclaims we don't torture, we should embrace that. the real question is, are the words matching up with the actual deeds? that is the real question. i think it is upon us, people who care about [indiscernible] to make sure we are lining up right when it comes to torture the use of military force and the force of flying robots on any number of things that have sort of been instruments of this last decade or more when it comes in america being involved in military force in the world. i think it is a good thing he made that claim. now the question is, what are we going to do about it? you asked me about isis. i think the best strategy for isis is expand france, isolate
enemies, and make sure that we urge the iraqi government to have an inclusive government to make sure the sunni community is a going to turn to some nihilistic killers like isis for aid and comfort. we need to make sure there is good governance and encourage that process as much as we can. we also need to work internationally. there are dangers with the as collating military conflict with isis that we need to be aware of, but at the same time, you have to understand, this whole thing started with bashar al-assad and how he is the one who continue to escalate against the people of syria who are trying to get democratic reform. we have to go back to the roots and talk to russia and china in the region, i think, to make a real transition in syria. at this point, we reach some
very, very dire ends when it comes to deaths, dislocated people, and things like that. >> congressman, i want to ask about another aspect of the president speech that got perhaps the biggest applause from the republican side of the aisle. his pressing of congress to give him fast-track authority for trade deals like the trans pacific partnership and others. could you talk about that? i think we may have asot of him making this part of the speech. >> let me tell you, i think 95% of the domestic speech i liked. maybe even more. when it came to talk about fast-track authority, i am still waiting for the president to explain how the fast-track any trace pacific partnership are going to be different from the enormous trade deficits we run up with the north american free trade agreement in 1994.
they told us we were going to have hundreds of thousands of new jobs. that is not happen. many states, including minnesota, are another job loser as a report result of nafta. even the south korea deal, we were told we would sell more beef and carson south korea. we have a bigger trade deficit than before. how's it going to be different. ? the president said, i know things have not gone as promised in the past. so we're going to do it again? i just don't see that. i will say this, be a many other members of the progressive caucus are willing to listen to what the administration has to say, but we can't let history be ignored here. there is a bad record -- not to mention, there's some another problems when it comes to food security, what this is going to do to life-saving drugs, what this is going to do to wages.
six out of the 11 countries contemplated in the transpacific partnership, we are he have a trade deficit with them. are we going to do even more? the explanation is still sorely lacking. i want to emphasize the negative -- when the president said college of portability free college tuition, paid sick leave. these things are awesome. i don't want to just talk about what i did not like. they were really good things that i'm certain hours of the progressive caucus really embraced. but there does remain this problem with the trade stuff. >> let's hear some of what president obama said last night around the issue of colleges. president obama talking about free tuition for committed to colleges, for the first two years. >> 40% of our college students choose community college. some are young and starting out some are
older and looking for a better job.
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some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market. whoever you
are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy without a load of debt. understand, you have got to earn it. you have to keep your grades up and graduate on time. tennessee, a state with republican leadership, and chicago, the city with democratic leadership, are showing free community college is possible. i want to spread that idea all across america. with two years of college becomes as free and universal in america as high school is today. >> that is president obama talking about free community college education. after the speech, the republicans interviewed on television, one after the other said, sounds fine, where is he going to get the money? congressman ellis. >> there are a lot of ways to
get the money. the idea of a financial transaction tax on wall street trade is gaining momentum. i have a bill nicknamed the robin hood tax, a bill that taxes stock trades him a derivative's, and bonds and will generate in the neighborhood of $300 billion a year. the fact is, the money is available in the people who have really benefited from all of these decades of deregulation have concentrations of wealth that really staggers the imagination. maybe they should step up and help out america and make sure college is affordable and the opportunity is for everyone and not just them and their kids. >> another aspect of the agenda was his pressing for raising of the federal minimum wage. you brought as a guest, veronica mendez from the center for workers united and struggle in
minnesota. could you talk about the importance of the minimum wage issue? >> veronica is like my barometer of some and economic questions. veronica and the workers she represents, will they understand fast-track in the transpacific partnership in these trade deals? will they understand the presidents wage policy? will they understand what he said about infrastructure and see it is good for them? if it's good for them, i think it is probably good for everybody. i can to you that she walked away thinking some really good things about the domestic process. she walked away thinking she really did not get the trade stuff. one of the things she found really exciting is the fact the president seems to really understand that we have got to increase wages, that wages drive demand and are also important to the individual family. decent wages keep people out of homeless shelters. decent wages allow families to
afford books and, at no, school fees, and things like that. the bottom line is, this is an important message that veronica picked up. if i may veronica is the leader of an organization that recognized that the contractors for major retailers like target were not paying the workers who clean the target stores enough money. she was caught in this game of, well, target is saying you are not our employees, you to talk to the contractors. after a lot of negotiation and discussion, target agreed to come to the table and came up with a good contractor policy in which target is going to insist that if you get a contract with them in the twin cities, you will observe worker protections and fair pay for the workers who clean up the target stores every a. this is outside the normal,
traditional labor movement. a lot of people think these workers were not organize a bowl, but they are. veronica is proof of that. she was excited of a front row seat to hear the president talk about these issues 01/21/15 01/21/15 michelle obama, the first lady had sitting next to her a dreamer. the response to her guest commerce member steve king said in a tweet -- "obama perverts prosecution will discretion by inviting a deportable to sit in place of honor at sotu first lady." >> me and steve king often disagree. i will say, look, these and people brought to this country as minors before they had any choice in the matter, and they
still have aspired to the highest ideals of this country. this is something important. this is a tremendous honor for our country that these folks want to be americans and have invested heavily here in terms of time in their own education and development. steve king, i guess, wants to educate these kids in our schools, train them, then send them back to some addresses country to develop there. that doesn't make sense to me. with all due respect to my colleague, he and i see this issue very differently, about as different as you possibly can. >> he was talking about a college student. we be voting to authorize an attack on the islamic state? >> you know, that is a good question. the bottom line is, the islamic state is a nihilistic, violent extremist group and they're not going to be dissuaded through simple diplomacy. but it is authorizing force against them, the right course
of action when you have many other tools available? what i'm going to tell you, amy, i'm not under any illusions about isil in the dangerousness but i'm also clear that we need to evaporate the recruiting base, isolate them, we need to draw in allies on a multilateral way and cut their money off. there are a lot of ways to defeat isis without applying troops on the ground. i am going to keep on studying this issue carefully and i would be happy to come back and talk with you about it more. >> we want to thank you for being with us. were you one of the pencil waivers last night? >> i did not really way they pencil, but i can tell you i saw my colleagues doing that. i was kind of busy following along the speech. good for them. i was waiting the pencil. >> thank you for being with us congress member keith ellison, cochair of the house progressive
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>> we continue our look at president obama's state of the union address in
which he laid out his vision for his final two years in office. much of his speech focused on the economy and efforts to bolster the middle class with a push for education, child care and tax breaks. >> what does middle-class economics require in our time? first, middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. that means hoping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement. and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year. [applause] here is one example. during world war ii when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was
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a national security priority. so this country provided universal childcare. in today's economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. [applause] it is not a nice to have it is a must-have. it is time we start treating childcare as a side issue or is a women's issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. [applause]
and that is why -- that is why my plan will make quality childcare more available and more affordable for every middle-class and low income family with young children in america. by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3000 perch on, per year. >> that is president obama last night in his second to the last date of the union address. for more we're joined by ralph nader, longtime consumer advocate, former presidential candidate. his latest book is called " "unstoppable: the emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state." and joining us from rochester david cay johnston, an , investigative reporter who won a pulitzer prize while at "the new york times." he's currently a columnist for tax analysts and al jazeera as well as a contributing editor at newsweek. his latest book is, "divided. the perils of our growing inequality." he is joining us from pbs station wxxi. the whole issue of tax cuts and taxing the rich.
>> he was too vague on that. what he should have done is said that ronald reagan supported capital gains and dividend taxes like ordinary income, so there wasn't a split worthy rich get lower tax the capital gains or dividends. and he did not tie-in any idea of revenues for the public works program that he touted. amy, state of the union speeches are signaling presentations. they signal by what they say how they say it, and what they don't say. and on that criteria, it wasn't a very coherent speech. he stressed civil liberties and never mentioned what is going to do about the renewal of the notorious patriot act provisions. he said there should be more oil and gas production and then he warned about climate change. he said her should be strengthening and unions and voices of workers, and then he took it away with the
transpacific trade agreement which exports jobs and he wants to ram through congress a voiceless fasttrack that prohibits amendment's and labor from having a role in that to the liberation desk to liberation. did not mention the billions of dollars of commercial fraud on medicare and medicaid and patience in the private sector. hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate crime he never mentioned. he could've done a convergence with republicans on auditing the pentagon, which sounds dull, but it is a huge issue that the rank-and-file on both sides support in contrast of leadership in congress. he could have easily converged because as senator -- senator obama teamed up with senator coburn to put the hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate contracts online. so competitors, taxpayers, the media, the academia can analyze
and prune the huge waste fraud and corruption. also notice that he said again, close down gitmo. we heard that song before. again, he did not mention the israeli-palestinian conflict at all. i think what is most troubling is what he avoided saying like, he desperately needs funding for his programs like day care and so on. and he did not mention the squeeze on the irs budget by the republicans, so the irs now cannot begin to collect what they say is 300 billion dollars of evaded taxes every year. that is $300 billion of evaded taxes, not avoided taxes which david cay johnston be talking about. i think he missed a lot of opportunities.
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it was not specific enough. it was not coherent enough. he could've gone for more convergence with republicans, as i point out in great detail in my book "unstoppable." >> let's
go back to president obama last i speaking about the taxing of the rich. >> as americans, we don't mind paying our fair share of taxes as long as everybody else does too. but for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight. they have riddled it with giveaways that the superrich don't need, while denying a break to middle class families who do. this year, we have an opportunity to change that. let's close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad and reward those that invest here in america. [applause]
let's use those savings
to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for company's to bring jobs home. let's simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement instead of the number of accountants she can afford. [applause] and let's close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top 1% to avoid paying taxes on a regulated wealth. we can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send her kids to college. we need a tax code that truly helps working americans try to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together. [applause] >> that was president obama last night in the state of the union. david cay johnston, it seems to me that this was perhaps -- at least on the domestic front -- his most populist presentation in terms of on the spending front and at least on raising the issue of taxes. but what in reality, given the
fact there is a republican majority, can he expect to happen in the coming year and also, what about this tax debate that will be occurring this year in congress? >> i think obama did something very savvy last night. he is trying to force the republicans into a position where the either have to go with mainstreet or the political rants. we've already seen from the response at they are siding with the plutocrats. the idea we should not just the tax rates for people at the top and doing so is somehow class warfare is absurd and of course, the republicans are always talking about dynamic economic activity and yet now they're proposing a constant state, at least as it applies to the rich. the proposals he put forth last night are pro-child, profamily, pro-work am a pro-savings, many things put forth by the republicans including tax and
provocation, and yet the republicans rejected this out of hand. what obama is really doing juan setting up the 2016 election. this could be turned against him by the republicans. my column this morning is about how republicans were savvy about this, they would take the bill that would be introduced with these proposals of one of the democrats, strip out the tax increases for those of the top pass it, then for the president in a position of having to veto the class tax cut. but keep in mind, your sing republicans oppose the lower taxes and tax relief for middle-class americans. in that sense, politically he has been quite successful, i think, in a talk he gave last night. >> and how would taxing the work -- the rich work, david cay johnston? >> he is proposing two key elements. one is to end up step up. if you inherit stock that has never been taxed, it is received
by you at its current value, you can sell it and pay no taxes. this is the single most important element by which the very wealthy perpetuate their wealth from generation to generation. so it is not merit and hard work at which the republicans talk about all the time, that creates a lot of the wealth of the top it is, who did you pick to be your parents? the second thing the president is proposing, for those people in the top one half of 1%, almost all of the money would be paid by the top 1/10 of 1%, people who make over to my in dollars, that tax rate be at the ronald reagan rate of 20%. republicans are saying that is outrageous. i'm sorry, they're always telling us ronald reagan is a saint. i think it is ideologically difficult to make the argument that we should have a 28% tax rate, particularly when surveys are showing two very important things about the disconnect between republican congressional leaders and republicans.
more than half of republicans and one poll and around 40% and others favor higher taxes on people with million dollar plus incomes. 53% of republicans said the tax rate should be 50% on the year income above one lane dollars and three out of four republicans want to increase social security benefits while congressional republican leaders are focused on trying to dismantle those benefits. >> on tuesday, senator orrin hatch, chair of the finance committee, said president obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy americans in order to help the middle class amount class warfare. in remarks prepared for a speech to the u.s. chamber of commerce he wrote -- "this plan... appears to be more about redistribution, with added complexity, and class warfare, directed at job-creating small businesses, than about tax reform." david cay johnston, your response? >> i'm with warren buffett on this one.
warren buffett, 15 years ago when i was at "the new york times," told me we are engaged in class warfare. my side is winning. we of been engaged in class warfare for a long time. the reason incomes at the top have gone up so much and others are stagnating is government rules that have been bought and paid for with campaign contributions, companies providing jobs for politicians friends, and family in the politicians them selves when they leave office. we need to recognize that there is class warfare going on. it is being waged by segment of the very wealthy who are systematically draining the pockets of people down below to increase the fortunes. nothing obama said and nothing i've ever said is opposed to people acquiring wealth because they made a better product for better service and they earned it in the marketplace. but what is going on in our country is, government rules that i've written about in much
religiosity american economy -- trilogy of the a mac and connie, region your pocket and take her money. with 3000 corporations now that keep the state income taxes they withhold from workers and workers have no idea they're being taxed otherwise his and there are thousands of policies like this. we do have class warfare going on. it is being waged by a segment of the middle class and the poor. >> i think one of the things we did not hear from president obama last night that is really important is the question of the poor. we heard some about the middle class, and that was important, but the fact is, in president obama's own city and washington, d.c., the new statistics indicate 50% of the children in the city i live in are living in poverty. we did not hear enough. we heard a reference to inequality, but it was in the context of the economy is back. yes, we still have to deal with inequality, but the reality is,
inequality is the meat, not the side dish. inequality is the central reality of the economy that exists in our country and around the world. and these new statistics that of come out, the new report from oxfam, which president obama not surprisingly did not reference that said that right now the 80 wealthiest people in the world control as much wealth or own as much wealth as 50%, the bottom 50% of the population of the world. it is staggering. it is a staggering reality. it is income principled a think about that. when we talk about the rising middle-class and supporting the middle class, the middle class is hurting, but the number of poor people who are not in your close to the middle
class in this country is rising at exponential numbers. >> on tuesday night, president obama called for an increase to the federal minimum wage. >> nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. that is why this congress still
needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is
paid the same as a man for doing the same work. [applause] >> it is 2015. it's time. we still need to make sure employees get the overtime they have earned. [applause] and everyone in this congress who still refuses to ways -- raise the minimum wage i say this. if you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it. if not vote to give millions of the hardest working people in america a raise. >> that was president obama last night in the state of the union address. ralph nader, the subtitle of "unstoppable" -- the emerging
left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state." do you really see a left-right alliance here? >> definitely. obama is incredible a minimum wage. in two thousand eight, he said $9.50 by 2011. then when he started talking about it after four years, he was a really serious. he spent a lot of days before the last election last year running around raising money from high wealthy salons and did not spend the time, senator reid wanted him to, on pushing the minimum wage and nationalizing the issue and making it a cutting-edge against the republicans. it is a left-right issue, amy. it comes in about 80% in the
polls. that means a lot of conservative workers and walmart are for restoring the minimum wage which if you adjusted for inflation, would be $11 an hour now and sit of the federal minimum wage of seven dollars 25 cents. notice, president obama did not say how much he wanted. it is a left-right issue beautifully argued by people like nick cannon our, the billionaires in seattle, runs conservative in consultant -- conservatives, rick santorum, bill o'reilly and still, he will not put a figure on it. the speech reminded me of shakespeare's words. words, words, words. >> on foreign policy, before we got a break, phyllis bennis, the issue of iran, not race last night? >> it was raised very, very
briefly, but i think the problem is, we did not hear beyond a very good commitment from president obama that he will veto any new sanctions resolution. that is important because right now, those were supporting new sanctions against iran or the threat of future new sanctions in iran are people who want more. because alternative to a really go shoot it solution with iran is a war with iran, a very dangerous moment. you have coming up march 1 and then in july for full agreement with iran, and there is the possibility of it. it is important president obama said he will veto any of the congressional efforts that we know are underway. aipac and the israeli government are pushing for new sanctions which would deliver undermine any possibility of an agreement. with the reality is, the situation in the region as a whole right now is so tense and the role of iran is so fundamental to that -- we are saying we don't know the impact is going to be of the killing by israel of an iranian general and
the golan heights yesterday. it is a very dangerous moment. the idea that some in congress want to impose new sanctions that would completely destroy the possibility of a negotiated settlement, means that those in congress posing that one war. -- want war. i wish we'd her from president obama that those who don't want an agreement, those who want new sanctions, pushing for war. that kind of dramatic reality check would have been very important to say and front of the world. we did not hear that, but we did hear commitment to veto and that is very important. >> phyllis bennis is at the institute for policy studies. thank you so much for being with us. ralph nader will stay with us longtime consumer advocate, it ran for president number of times. in a moment we will go to madison, wisconsin and be joined by lisa graves as we talk about the republican response. we will be back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
>> this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> it was five years ago this week that the supreme court's citizens united decision allowed unlimited political spending by corporations and unions. some of the biggest spenders since have been david and charles koch. this weekend, four leading republican presidential prospects are set to appear at an exclusive gathering of rich conservatives organized by the koch brothers -- senator ted cruz, senator marco rubio,
wisconsin governor scott walker and senator rand paul. the koch brothers are also among the key backers of newly-elected republican senator joni ernst of iowa, who gave the republican response to president obama's state of the union address. >> the new republican congress also understands how difficult these past six years have been. for many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with washington's dysfunction weren't things we had to read about, we felt them every day. quick that is senator joni ernst, the new senator from iowa. for more, we go now to madison wisconson, where we are joined by lisa graves, executive director of the center for media and democracy. they published a piece tuesday headlined, "koch party delivers sotu response." welcome back to democracy now! why that title?
>> this really is the koch party response. although joni ernst gave a nice speech last night, i think she showed a little more enthusiasm when she was caught on tape at a closed-door meeting with the koch brothers and their billionaire buddies, thanking them for relieving the source of her trajectory to power. she made very clear and those remarks how dependent she is on the koch part of, basically, the koch brothers network, which is a shadow party that in many ways is overtaking republican party in terms of influence and power. koch industries gave money to her campaign to wrigley. charles koch gave money that was disclosed and also to a number of groups that don't disclose donors as well as some of the super pacs they've helped bankroll. one of the super pacs that is been a big influence in joni ernst race was one of the freedom groups were literally david and charles koch each gave
$2 million out of their trust funds. out of the millions and millions and billions they have in their trust. in some ways, the anniversary of citizens united is more than appropriate to take stock of what is happening when you have, basically, this koch party that has come to power as a result of citizens united really giving the response to the president of the united states. >> lisa graves, the new york times has a front page story talking about how the various republican presidential hopefuls are falling over themselves to try to get meetings with the koch brothers, to get exposure to their network of donors. how have they gotten such or become such a huge force within the republican party? >> it is just money. it is really the conversion of money into the ideas by the supreme court that money is speech and cannot be limited or
restricted. this is the terrible fruit being harvested, basically by a majority of the supreme court that has been backing corporate power with very few limits. it is about money. these are two of the richest guys on the planet, david and charlesk. they're cultivating these politicians to do their bidding. we see the results in the state states like wisconsin and kansas were you have these kochites at the home, is the real devastation to the economy from these types of policies and these policies are really out of step with what many americans want when the actually have a chance to vote at the polls. what the republican party has this dark money and super pacs rose to power in the last election, but at the polls those same polls on or near citizens when voting on paid sick leave or increase in minimum wage or protections to have noticed about gmos, they voted for progressive policies.
unfortunately, the dark money and the super pacs really had a huge impact on this last election cycle. >> so the koch brothers convergence will take place in california in palm springs at an exclusive area for particular presidential candidates. recently, rand paul went to visit the wichita headquarters of the koch brothers. senator ernst calling for elimination of the epa and the department of education. she told a very different story last night and in an eloquent state of the union address talked about her own very humble beginnings. ralph nader, your response and the power of the koch brothers in the new republican majority and what you think needs to be done? >> first of all, there should be a state legislature that asks the koch brothers to come and testify an answer questions. congress should have a
congressional hearing on this. the republicans are in control. nobody ever does anything more than expose the koch brothers. well, put them in the public light and cross examine them. my favorite approach is that every major corporation does business with the federal government, and the federal government should simply say that if you want contracts with uncle sam, you cannot give money to political campaigns. there are some towns in california who basically say anybody who does business was city hall cannot make contributions. that is one way to limit the effect of citizens united and other judicial decisions. but for the overall citizen strategy against citizens united, go to citizen.org public citizen's website, which has a diverse approach to mobilize people to amend the
constitution, but in the meantime, to do other things that will limit the effects of putting our politicians on an auction block for the highest bidder. the last thing i would say, amy, let's get the american people were skeptical. just have a role. you don't believe any political ad on tv. forget it. close it off. it affects about 10% to 50% of the swing vote, most people are hereditary voters, republican, democrat maybe green party, but by and large, it is that 16% swing vote that is extremely vulnerable to these political ads because people don't do their homework on the candidates , their records, and what they have done and not done in the interest of the people contrast to the interest of big business and the photography. >> we have to leave it there ralph nader, former presidential candidate longtime consumer